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Nuclear technology increases rice crop yields

Rice terraces in Indonesia

There has been a wealth of studies examining the impact climate change can play in reducing the yield of rice crops.

Whether it be less rain or a shortened growing season, many are concerned about the future of rice production. And this could have a negative impact on the health and economies of the developing world.

But nuclear technology could offer a solution.

In Indonesia, scientists at the country’s National Nuclear Energy Agency (BATAN) have developed 22 rice varieties using irradiation to generate new and useful traits in crops. The process is known as mutation breeding.

As the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) explains, “Mutation breeding uses a plant’s own genetic make-up, mimicking the natural process of spontaneous mutation. The mutation process generates random genetic variations, resulting in plants with new and useful traits.”

Ripe rice crops

In Indonesia, scientists use gamma irradiation to induce mutations in seeds and to speed up the natural mutation process. The new plants are then tested and those displaying useful traits are selected for further breeding and subsequent distribution to farmers.

After two years, the new rice has been a success. Two hundred farmers in the region of East Java have used the rice variety called Inpari Sidenuk, which is Indonesian for “Nuclear Dedication.” According to the IAEA, the farmers have doubled their yields to nine tons per hectare.

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Bruce Power to produce Lutetium-177 for cancer therapy

In late June, Bruce Power joined forces with Isotopen Technologien München (ITM) to examine the production of the radioisotope Lutetium-177 at the Bruce Power site.

Lu-177 is used in targeted radionuclide therapy to treat cancers like neuroendocrine tumours and prostate cancer.

The medical-grade radioisotope is used to destroy cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unaffected.

According to the company, the Bruce Power site has the ability to meet global supply needs through 2064, which is the lifespan of the station after refurbishment.

Bruce Power nuclear generating station

“By developing innovative ways to generate these radioisotopes, we help ensure that the medical community has access to a reliable source of medical radioisotopes for Targeted Radionuclide Therapy,” Bruce Power CEO Mike Rencheck said via a press release.

Bruce’s CANDU reactors already produce Cobalt-60, which is used for the sterilization of medical equipment and in a specialized form of cancer treatment called the Gamma Knife.

Bruce Power is part of the Canadian Nuclear Isotope Council (CNIC), which aims to develop collective solutions to maintain Canada’s leadership position in global isotope production. The CNA is also a member of the Council.

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A Carbon Tax Isn’t Enough — Canada Needs More Nuclear

By John Barrett, President and CEO, Canadian Nuclear Association
Originally published in the National Post, December 18, 2018

Today, the big federal-provincial debate centres around Ottawa’s plan to introduce a carbon tax. Changes in provincial governments have brought premiers into office who are openly opposed to Ottawa’s plan. But, as a country, are we becoming too wrapped up in one specific policy to combat climate change?

Climate change mitigation cannot be successful through carbon pricing alone. By only focusing on this we are losing sight of the importance of ramping up our clean electricity capacity.

Global emissions continue to increase at a rapid pace and most G20 countries are not on track to meet their Paris commitments, according to a recent report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The sheer amount of clean electricity needed to meet future demand and help end energy poverty in the developing world will take all available generating sources.

Standing above all other options in sheer capacity to generate large quantities of clean electricity is nuclear energy. It is a solution that is proven and available now.

Greater progress required for a cleaner future

Canada’s nuclear reactor technology and uranium exports have contributed globally to the avoidance of millions of tonnes of CO2 over the last 30 years, by displacing fossil fuel sources.

Today, nuclear energy produces approximately 15 per cent of Canada’s electricity. In Ontario, it provides 60 per cent of the province’s electricity, and in New Brunswick, it provides 30 per cent.

Ontario is justly proud of phasing out coal generation. Contrary to what some people would have us believe, this was not due to variable renewable energy sources such as wind and solar coming online, but rather the refurbishment and subsequent coming online of Bruce Power nuclear reactors that made the end of coal a reality.

Last year, Sweden generated a whopping 95 per cent of its total electricity from zero-carbon sources, with 42 and 41 per cent coming from nuclear and hydroelectric power, respectively. France generated 88 per cent of its electricity from zero-carbon sources, with 72 and 10 per cent coming from nuclear and hydro sources. In both countries, the establishment of a fleet of nuclear power reactors during the 1970s and 1980s effectively decarbonized their electricity supply.

A plan for Canada and the world

While the contributions of wind and solar continue to climb, they cannot solve the immediate need. As they produce energy intermittently, they can’t run 24/7 and require backup generation, usually through fossil fuel sources, which add to GHG emissions.

By contrast, there is growing consensus for the need to ramp up nuclear. In April of 2014, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recommended tripling the amount of energy use from nuclear and renewable sources to keep climate change within two degrees Celsius.

Furthermore, Canada’s Mid-Century Long-Term Low-Greenhouse Gas Development Strategy, released at COP22, included nuclear in all the models it espoused for achieving drastic GHG emission reductions by 2050.

The nuclear industry has innovative new reactor technologies under development. They are distinguished by their smaller size, lower costs, and diverse applications, from powering off-grid communities to heavy industrial processes to hydrogen production. This is what we call the new nuclear – and it’s on its way.

By using today’s proven nuclear power and tomorrow’s new nuclear, we have a chance in Canada to actually meet our GHG reduction targets and claim real leadership in the transition to a low-carbon future.

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Hurricane Florence no threat to nuclear power plants

Satellite image of Hurricane Florence

Nuclear power has once again withstood threats from Mother Nature.

Hurricane Florence, which battered the U.S. East Coast in September, was worse than predicted.

“Many of the dire predictions came true,” wrote Grist magazine reporter Eric Holthaus. “In the past few days, Hurricane Florence has become the worst rainstorm in history for North Carolina, as well as the entire East Coast.”

The four-day rainfall accumulation of nearly 36 inches, which was measured in Elizabethtown, North Carolina, is above the previous record for a hurricane anywhere on the East Coast. It broke the North Carolina record by nearly a foot.

In the lead-up week before Florence made landfall, the media was full of stories about how as many as nine nuclear reactors could be in its path.

According to Bloomberg News, out of the nine nuclear plants that were potentially in the path of Florence before the storm landed Friday, just one was forced to close.

Brunswick nuclear power plant in North Carolina

The Brunswick nuclear facility was the only one taken offline because of the Hurricane.

While there were concerns about access to the plant due to flooding in the wake of Florence, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued a statement on September 18, to reassure the public about the situation.

“The plant’s two units remain shut down in a safe condition, and flooding in nearby areas has not affected the plant site,” the statement read. “While there are still some site access issues, it is possible to move personnel and supplies to and from the site. Access to the plant is expected to improve over the next couple of days.”

This is the second year in a row that nuclear power plants were tested in the U.S. South during hurricane season.

Last year, Florida’s two nuclear power plants withstood the fury of Hurricane Irma. Turkey Point and St. Lucie nuclear power plants which serve approximately 1.5 million customers are designed to withstand the natural force of such extreme events like hurricanes. Florida’s nuclear plants sit approximately 20 feet above sea level and are constructed to withstand the force of severe flooding and storm surges. Backup safety systems are also in place to ensure site safety.

Concerns about nuclear power plants being affected by hurricanes makes great headlines, but because of preparedness, problems are averted.

Ted Kury, director of energy studies at the University of Florida’s Public Utility Research Center, explained it best in a piece for The Conversation.

“To prevent accidents, the outer wall of reactor containment systems are made out of reinforced concrete and steel,” he wrote. “Since they are designed to withstand the impact of a large commercial airliner, flying debris – even if it’s propelled by 200 miles-per-hour winds – is unlikely to pose much of a threat.”

According to Kury, utilities prepare for storms by inspecting power stations, securing equipment, testing backup pumps and generators and stocking critical supplies in case workers have to stay on site.

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QP Briefing ads show nuclear is good for Ontario

Ad #1 online throughout July 2018.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ad #2 online throughout September 2018.

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Hill Times ads promote the benefits of nuclear in Canada

Ad #1 published in the “Energy” brief on August 13, 2018.

Ad #2 published in the “Innovation” brief on October 1, 2018.

Ad #3 published in the “Energy” brief on December 3, 2018.